A craniotomy (also called a craniectomy) is the main treatment for subdural hematomas that happen after a traumatic skull injury. Other conditions, like intracranial hypertension, sometimes call for this procedure.
In general, burr holes are less invasive than a craniotomy. During a craniotomy, a part of your skull is removed through a temporary incision. After your surgeon is done needing access to your brain, the section of your skull is placed back over your brain and secured with screws or metal plates.
The recovery from a burr hole surgery varies widely. The time it takes to recover has more to do with why you needed the surgery than it does with the procedure itself.
Once you wake up from the anesthesia, you may feel a throbbing or soreness in the area where the burr hole was inserted. You may be able to manage the pain with over-the-counter pain medication.
Most of your recovery will take place in an intensive care unit in the hospital. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics as a preventive measure against infection.
Your doctor will work closely with you to manage your recovery. Immediately after the surgery, you’ll be able to resume eating and drinking as you would normally.
You’ll need to be cleared by your doctor before you drive or operate machinery. You’ll also need to avoid any activity in which you could receive a blow to the head.
Your doctor will give you instructions about how to care for your wound. They’ll also let you know about any needed follow-up appointments.
In some cases, you’ll need to return to your doctor to have stitches or a drain removed from the site of the burr hole. In recent years, some doctors have started covering burr holes with titanium plates after they’re no longer needed.
Burr hole surgery is usually an emergency procedure. That means that most people don’t have time to prepare before having it done.
If you’re having burr holes inserted to remove a tumor, insert a medical device, or treat epilepsy, you may have some forewarning that you’ll need this surgery.
You may be asked to shave your head before the procedure and not eat or drink anything after midnight on the day before surgery.